Wednesday, June 29, 2016

(Virtual) Blarney Castle and Gardens and Kissing the Blarney Stone

The Blarney Castle...finally!

A tour of the castle and the grounds.

And the most exceptional site I found where you can do a virtual walking tour of the castle and all the gardens...including The Poison Garden!

A garden set off to itself and filled with deadly poisonous plants that were used by maesters for both medicinal and nefarious purposes, back in the castle's past.

Every plant in this garden is deadly poison.

The grounds also offer the stone grotto tours, numerous flower and herb gardens and of course the World Famous Blarney Stone

A kiss much easier these days...after climbing to the tower's top and holding onto iron bars while kissing the stone.

A feat much more difficult in olden times when the kisser was actually dangled over the edge of the wall to do the kissing.

The legend being that those who kiss the Blarney Stone are bestowed the gift of Persuasion and Eloquence.

(This might actually explain a few men I dated through the years...just saying)

And for those who want more the online gift shop sells piece of Blarney Stone (although not pieces of THE Blarney Stone) from Ireland...which is basically carboniferous limestone from the local quarry.

I found a small silver Celtic Cross pendant to purchase there.

All and all a wonderful adventure!

Soon: Mutton Stew and Soda Bread (and recipes)


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Novel- The Plan: The General

[ When he walks in the office in full dress uniform I gasp involuntarly. I half want to salute and stand at attention until he releases me with "At Ease", even though I have never served a day of my life. Before we start our interview he tells me he has some news he wants to share that he thinks will make Mark very happy, but he wanted to run it past me first. That is where today's session begins.]

"So, I had a little chat with a couple of friends today who owe me favors...anyways...I wanted to see how you felt about"Ohio" coming down with me on a little day trip sometime."

[My face must show what I am thinking. Jesus. Who doesn't this guy know? And what kind of "favors" buys a deserter a day pass? It must be like the Marines. Once a Marine always a Marine. Once The General. Always The General. Even in retirement. Out loud I respond enthusiastically but ask for time to break it to Mark that the kid survived. He agrees. Then I turn the subject to the elephant in the room,  Jerry's suicide.]

"About that. That problem may have settled itself. Tray, for whatever passes for brains in that head of hers, decided to tell the kids that Jerry just up and left her instead of telling them that he is dead. At first I thought it was the stupidest thing I had ever heard, but now I think it might be the best thing she has done since she first married Mark. It would be a lot easier on Mark than him knowing what actually happened.

"Tray has been talking non-stop about trying to get back with Mark now, did you know that?"

"It is all about the money, you know."

[ He doesn't miss a thing and reads the glower that quickly passes across my face even though I am answering him affirmatively]

"Don't sweat it, Shrink. I feel the very same way. We can't let her do this to him, again. Not now. Not ever."

[He levels his heavy gaze on me and I realize that he trusts I can keep her away from Mark. Maybe I can. The Plan is already taking form. How fortuitous that she made up the story of Jerry having left her. It makes things that much simpler. ]

"I'm a countin' on you to head her off at the pass, podner" he says in a corny western-John Wayne on the Lone Prairie -affect.

[He has a smile on his face, but his eyes are stone serious]

"He is making real progress now. I won't have her screwing that up." He states with finality.

[ I am glad to see we are both on the same page. Quite frankly it would be a source of real concern if I found myself not on The General's Page. More and more I am realizing he is a man who not only gets things done, but often is instrumental in making them happen. I feel a sense of kinship with him that I have not felt with anyone in years.]

The Things We Take For Granted...and Summer Stacks!

They say we never know what we have until it is gone.  Yesterday, in a very small way, I was able to experience a reminder first hand.

First let me say "Kudos" to Comcast for bringing our area Internet outage under control in about 7 hours...but more importantly because it occurred only minutes after I had finished watching (pre-recorded) the Season Finale of Game of Thrones.  If this had happened in the middle of the episode, you would have undoubtedly heard the wails and obscenities from where YOU are sitting.

And I will discuss the finale later this is still much too early for spoilers. Let me just say it was absolutely PERFECT.

Anyway, although it put a tiny crimp in my virtual Ireland plans, postponed the Blarney Castle, and necessitated evening wine with Idgy on the phone instead of our usual goodnight online also provided a relaxing tech free evening, facilitated a sitting-on-the-patio watching the fireflies and the sunset with the Tucker-Cat (purr therapy), and made time for a candle lit bubble bath before bed. 

So taken for granted in this age of instant connectivity...and not at all bad.

Up early this morning to coffee and chat, basking and a bit of weeding before the heat begins...and The Stacks.

Having just scratched the surface of this Summer's TBR list.

Recently finished both Proulx's: Barkskins and the new Joe Hill: The Fireman.

I love historical fiction and can spend hours in a Ken Follett creation.  Last year I spent most of the year face down in his Century Trilogy and loving it!

Proulx's Barkskins is a novel which spans 300 years and generation upon generation of a French-Indian timber cutting family.

 It is a very interesting read that would have been exceptional if she had, perhaps, released it as a Trilogy. To try to compress so many generations and 300 years of time into less than 1000 pages was...crowded. Distracting. All well written characters. They deserved more than the tiny time fragments they were allotted. Don't we all?  Over all you spend a lot of time with the impression "They die. They all fucking die"  I am pretty sure this is not what she was going for.  I liked the way the family evolved from clear-cutters to environmentalists over time. It was the books saving grace. Overall a disappointment, though.  She has done so much better.


And Hill's The Fireman.

Face it. This guy just gets better and better!  Seriously! I believe he has surpassed his old man. In case you didn't know, that would be Stephen "Want me to read you a BEDTIME story???" King.  It is worth noting that this book has been 4 years in the writing and has seen 4 re-writes (3 rough drafts) before its publishing.

An Apocalyptic/Post Apocalyptic  story about a spore that brings about a form of human evolution...or causes you to spontaneously combust. It's kind of a fifty-fifty. More than anything it is a closer look at mankind and how they cope psychologically when things "...turn to shit..." It brings you in during the very early days of Draco Incendia Trychopyton  (Dragonscale) through the eyes of a school nurse, and keeps you riveted to the very end...

Or is it?

One of my favorite bits from the book 
 (being the "news junkie" that I am)

Fox News said The Dragon had been set loose by ISIS, using spores that had been invented by the Russians in the 1980's. MSNBC said sources indicated the 'scale' might've been created by engineers at Halliburton and stolen by culty Christian types fixated on the Book of Revelations. CNN reported both sides. 

All  through May and June, there were roundtable discussions on every channel in between live reports from places that were in flames. 

Then Glenn Beck burned to death on his Internet program, right in front of his chalkboard, burned so hot that his glasses fused to his face, and after that most of the news was less about who did it and more about how not to catch it.

Well written and totally engaging from the first page to the last...with a spoiler for the next novel in the acknowledgements at the end of the keep reading after the story is over.


Still in queue for Stephen King's latest...the conclusion of the Mr. Mercedes Trilogy. 

With Proulx, Hill and King to kick off the 2016 Reading it is going to be an AMAZING Literary Summer!

More anon...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Revolution...The Dalai Lama...Brexit...Chocolates from Dublin...and a New Adventure in Writing

And in case you are still not CLEAR on this...

So no matter who says it or how loudly they say it...or how many times she appoints herself...or how many times MSM acts like the Democratic Nomination is a done-deal...the fact of the matter remains

                               "Superdelegates don't VOTE until July 25th"

So NO...Hillary isn't the Nominee yet.


As for me and mine, we are still Bernie or Bust. So, if Hillary is rewarded for all of her media blackout, election fraud, and lies by getting the Nomination (In JULY), you all ENJOY your Trump Presidency...okay? More than half of her OWN party won't even vote for her.

Yesterday, Indianapolis was treated to a visit by HH The 14th Dalai Lama. His address to the crowd of nearly 6,400 centered around Loving-Kindness, Compassion and Harmony. A thread which is woven through every major religion in the world and shared by most atheistic and agnostic beings as well.  It truly is the answer to the Eternal Question.

Also woke to this


The best editorial cartoon I have seen since the UK voted to leave the EU was this...and it kind of says it all...

Within a single day the DOW has plunged 600 points and companies are already talking about a mass migration out of England.

Here in the states...Texas immediately has called for what they are dubbing "Texit"  They have been salivating for an excuse to secede for years and years.

Although my UK buddies seem almost to-the-man against the ill-fated Brexit, and in fact a Regrexit petition has already accumulated over 3 million signatures for a re-vote on the issue. Many of the signatures from people who originally voted to leave the EU...not understanding the implications. 

Now, I don't  even pretend to understand the long reaching effects of The Brexit, but I do know what will happen in Texas if they ever manage to "Texit"

1. The Constitutional Rights that you so freely spout won't apply to you any more.

2. Mexico will quickly take it's land back. The Government won't be there to back you up.

3. The Federal Government (FEMA) won't be there to save your asses with funds, labor or supplies during the next wildfires, floods, droughts, any more either.

So good luck with all that.

Still poking about in Virtual Ireland...where I finished Dublin last week with a visit to a very real online sweet shoppe and found these:  Butler's Irish Chocolates

Now "winging their way" across The Atlantic!  Can't wait to try them. Continuing with the (virtual) Irish Adventure this week, and some traditional Irish Recipes!

And a new (real-time) adventure, soon,  for me.  Beginning the 5th of July as Sonnet ( Current Administrator) of The One Minute Writer prompt site, where I am a frequent contributor, is leaving to pursue her own New Adventure. I will be assuming her position.  I am completely chuffed and can't wait!

I will post the link here the day I assume the site, and hope that any of you who are writers or have ever thought about trying it, yourself...will join the lot of us!

Already working on tee-shirts and coffee mug ideas for some of the writing contests!

More tomorrow when we visit Blarney Castle and Gardens  :)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Fun With The Grands (Brenden)

A Grandma Rose Day with my Middle Grandson (Brenden) today...complete with lunch and ice cream sundaes out...some shopping...Playdoh (Even have a Play-Doh Pocket Rock now)..."If I Ran The Circus" (a book my grandfather used to sit and read to me) and he loved it...Outside play with the Big Red Ball...Making cookies and enjoying them with milk for quiet time and watching Kung Fu Panda 3 together (as he hadn't seen it yet).

He is growing up so fast! 

I am beat this evening...but it is entirely worth it!

Beat but so incredibly blessed!

More anon...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Novel: The Plan...Exo-Shel Team Member Steven Drossinger

[ My interview today is with the Head of the Exo-Shel Team. He is tall and thin. Nerdy might be an apt description. He had definitely spent a few years of his youth playing D & D with assorted outcasts banded together to survive puberty. Broad smile. His hair is light brown and swept back into a ponytail. Probably still smokes a joint or two during his off hours. He has touches of grey at the temples and a hairline that shows the beginnings of receding. A prominent nose on which hard rimmed black eyeglasses are perched magnifying his hazel eyes. His chin is all but forgotten. He has thin lips that he has a nervous habit of licking. He smells simply clean. Like that green soap they scrub with in an Emergency Room. He is dressed in a white lab coat with his credentials badge clipped to one pocket like a large tag on an airline bag. The man in the photo looks much younger. He has obviously been at this for a while. We begin as he pumps my arm excitedly.]

"My name is Steve. Steven Drossinger, actually. You must be Dr. Troy. I've heard so much about you. So pleased to finally meet you."

[ He is effusive, greeting me like a rock star,  and I suddenly realize that he must think I am solely responsible for his pet "lab animal" returning to the fold.]

"I have been a part of the Exo-Shel Team from the beginning in 2001. I was also on-site when Sgt. Mark Cole arrived at the V.A. in 2008, and after his last amputation. I remember thinking Mark was the guy we had been waiting for since the beginning...the proto-type of Shel. Oh sure, we had replaced individual arms or legs. But this. To give a guy back EVERYTHING. To give him back his life!"

[ His eyes are glazed in almost fanatical absorption]

"Sorry, it still kind of blows my mind."

"Anyway, we were making real progress until his wife left him."

" I think a lot of us here at The Shel thought it would remove distractions for him. Let him "become", you know.  It didn't work that way at all. He became completely non-compliant, and refused to continue. Just totally shut down."

" Can you even imagine what kind of a set back that was for us? For The Program?"

[It was a rhetorical question, apparently, as he continued on unabated.  Presumably unaware (or unconcerned) of what a setback divorce must have been for Mark.]

"Anyway, thanks to you, he is more motivated than I have seen him in three years. Letting us work with fittings and already experimenting with the arms and hands using his thoughts to create movement. They aren't incorporated into the Exo-Shel, just yet. Just arms and hands right now. But they will be. Most of the lower Shel was together before he quit The Program. So we have that going for us, anyway."

[ I realize until this moment I had always thought of the Exo-Shel Program as a bunch of altruistic nerd-types out to "Save The World". Maybe just "Help Humanity". I was wrong. By the abilities they were able to confer through state of the art robotics and neuroscience, these kids who were once jammed into lockers or beaten up for their lunch money when they left chess club, were elevated to "demi-gods" re-building mankind.]

 [I am still far away in my thought as he rambles on enthused, non-stop explaining the process, and what they will be embarking on next. When he finally shakes my hand again and leaves the office I am still smiling at the idea of Steve.

A Beta Male, who, through the wizardry of cybernetics, became so much more than the Alpha-male he was re-building. He became a god.  Not bad for a day job.]

Monday, June 20, 2016

(Virtual) Ireland- Dublin

Although Mayes did very little exploration of Ireland in her book "Year in the World" I have taken a small detour as I very much want to explore The Emerald Isle, and all that it has to offer.  In Rick Steve's Tour Book: Ireland, he opens with

Flung onto the foggy fringe of the Atlantic like a mossy millstone, Ireland drips with mystery, drawing you in for a closer look, and then surprising you.

Yeah. I'm hooked.

So today we'll begin in the capital (and largest city) Dublin.

Dublin sits at the mouth of the River Liffey and the name Dublin translates
from the Gaelic word Dublind meaning "black or dark pool" in reference to the
dark tidal pool where the River Liffey and the River Poddle intersect

Dublin was originally settled by The Vikings in the 10th Century.

Some of the sights include

Dublin Castle and Gardens


The Kilimainham Gaol  (Jail)


A historic jail used by the British to imprison Irish political now serves as a museum of that time.

Trinity College


 Trinity College was Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as a way of indoctrinating the mostly Catholic population to the Protestant religion.

Another interesting site is the
National Museum of Archaeology and History.

(tour...part one of several...start with this one and continue with part two and so on)

Including the Clonycavan Man. A 2,400 year old peat-bog man completely preserved, and on display.

There are also several walking tours available of the city

 And (of course) A Pub Crawl of Ireland which wouldn't be complete without Irish Music!

And when in Ireland ordering a beer (commonly referred to as a pint) aware you'll be getting

one of these. A thick creamy Guinness Stout served at room temperature. Not to be served cold which makes it VERY bitter.  
If you want something else you'll have to specify a brand. 

And there you have it.   A bit of Dublin.

More anon.